Out of the Cellar

WB, UPN finally best a Big 3 regular broadcast

CBS has made history in a negative way with its reconfigured Wednesday lineup, as “Michael Hayes” finished sixth for its hour in adults 18-49, losing to the UPN and WB competition.

It’s apparently the first time a regular entertainment broadcast on any of the Big Three has landed sixth in that key demo.

CBS’ “Cybill” also got off to a poor Wednesday start at 8:30 p.m., ending up fifth in the 18-49 demo behind UPN. “Cybill” lost 23% of its 18-49 leadin from “The Nanny,” CBS’ weakest retention in that post-“Nanny” slot with regular programming since July.

ABC’s regulars won the night in adults 18-49 with an average 6.6 rating and 18 share. It was ABC’s top-rated Wednesday since Jan. 7.

Gotta love Garth

NBC’s “Garth Brooks: Ireland and Back” special (10.6/17) pushed NBC ahead in homes.

It was the closing night of the February sweeps. Solid NBC and ABC results helped NBC hold onto second in adults 18-49 for the month over Fox and helped ABC pull into a tie for third with Fox in households. Fox still topped ABC for the month in total viewers.

It was a rough night for CBS but it started relatively well, as the engagement episode of “The Nanny” (8.7/14) earned that series’ top rating since Nov. 5.

The Eye struggled with the first Wednesday tries for “Cybill” (6.9/11 in homes, 3.1/8 in adults 18-49) and “Michael Hayes” (6.4/10 and 2.0/5). “Cybill” fell 9% below the 18-49 average of slot predecessor “Murphy Brown” and “Hayes” plummeted 29% below what “Public Eye” had averaged in the 9-10 p.m. hour.

These woes represent a continuation of CBS’ historic difficulties on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and the Eye’s latest shuffling of those lineups generally has made matters worse, despite the big promotional platform of the Olympics from which these changes were launched.

Sudden death

Just the night before the “Michael Hayes” debacle, “Four Corners” collapsed to a 4.8/8 in its second Tuesday try and was immediately canceled. That same night, “Public Eye” began its Tuesday run with a respectable 7.8/12. CBS ended up just 0.1 rating points ahead of WB in adults 18-49 for that Tuesday, then tied UPN in that same demo the next night (while losing Wednesday to UPN head-to-head 8-10 p.m.).

CBS convincingly prevailed over the netlets on both nights in the Eye’s target demo, adults 25-54, though “Hayes” lost to UPN’s “Star Trek: Voyager” by that measure.

It was a big Wednesday for UPN, with a two-hour “Trek” earning that series’ highest homes rating since Nov. 19 and the netlet’s best nightlong scores in adults 18-34 and all key male demos since Sept. 3.

“Trek” beat CBS and WB head-to-head in adults 18-34 and 18-49 and all key male demos.

WB’s “Strangers on the Internet” episode of “Smart Guy” (4.6/7), earned the highest rating for a WB (or UPN) sitcom this season and won the 8:30-9 p.m. slot in kids and teens. “Smart” earned the best-ever netlet sitcom rating in teens and second-best in kids.

Each household rating point represents an estimated 980,000 homes, or 1% of the country’s TV homes. Each adults 18-49 rating point reps 1.23 million viewers, 1% of the U.S. total. A share is the same sort of percentage, except it measures only the homes or viewers watching TV during the timeslot involved.

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